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What’s the point of your nonprofit website? If we had to guess, it’s to spread awareness of your organization’s mission and ultimately get people to take some sort of action on your site, like submit your contact form, sign up to volunteer or make a donation. You don’t want anything to get in the way, and fixing key web design issues is crucial.

Common Web Design Issues

Any action someone can take on your site is called a conversion. And you want conversion opportunities to be as easy to find and as simple to complete as possible. We’ll walk you through 11 common web design issues and how to avoid them to boost conversions on your nonprofit’s website.

1. Making text a low contrast color

First things first. If users can’t read your content, they’re not going to convert on your site. Even if you have 20/20 vision and can read the text just fine, it’s important to keep in mind that many of your site visitors may not.

Making your site as accessible as possible to people with all types of vision impairment is a great way to make sure you’re not excluding people (or missing out on potential donations and other support!). When the text on your website is not readable in contrast to your website’s background color, visitors will not be able to see your calls to action—no matter how strong they are.

We suggest using tools like WebAim to make sure you’re selecting colors that will be easily readable on your website. Once you load the WebAim site, paste in the hex code for the color of the text you’d like to use, as well as the hex code for the background color your text sits on. WebAim will let you know if the colors you’re planning to work with are high enough contrast to pass accessibility standards. You can also use the provided slide-scale to darken or lighten each color until they pass, so you have an exact idea of what color to make your text.

2. Hiding your links

You want potential supporters to explore your content, learn as much as they can about you, and ultimately convert. So, it stands to reason that you want to make sure people know where they can click.

Underline any links within your text and choose a color for links that stands out. We suggest selecting a brand color that is easy to read (as explained above). Blues, darker greens and purples are usually great options. Stay away from yellows for any sort of text. You can also add a symbol to the end of solo calls to action, like an arrow or caret for an extra cue that the text is a link. See an example of these symbols in the program links depicted below.

3. Not having a responsive website

It’s important for users to be able to easily digest and get to all of your content, especially from a mobile device. In 2018 it was expected that 57% of all internet traffic would be from a mobile device, and according to the Next Generation of American Giving Report, the number of donors who give using smartphones has been on the rise since 2013. Bottom line: if your website isn’t mobile-friendly you could be missing tons of conversions.

Talk to a developer to get the conversation going about a responsive website that displays well on any device. Some website platforms may even have responsive design built-in.

4. Setting a pop-up to show immediately

Give your site visitors some time to digest when they land on one of your web pages. Let them see how valuable your content is before you interrupt their experience on your site with a pop-up. We suggest setting any pop-ups you have running to display at least 10 seconds after someone loads a page. This way, they’re able to soak up some of your content before you make an ask of them.

5. Adding a prominent image carousel

A study by Nielsen Norman Group shows that half of website users will completely skip over anything that may be perceived as an ad, like a large image carousel, even if the carousel houses helpful information or important calls to action.

Image carousels are usually large in file size, making the page it’s displayed on slow to load. This is bad for the human attention span, as well as SEO. Need more proof a carousel is not the route to go? Image rotators often exclude users with visual and/or mobility disabilities, making the page non-accessible.

6. Not using the homepage to say what your organization does

Visitors will not take action on your site if they don’t know what you do. Write a single sentence that sums up what your organization does in a nutshell and feature that sentence prominently on your homepage. The last thing you want is for a potential supporter to land on your homepage and wonder about your mission or how you help. Don’t bury the information! Make it known upon first glance.

7. Using poor quality images

Images can be a powerful tool throughout your website, but when users come across grainy, low-quality photos, it’s tough to elicit any emotional response except “bleh.” Visuals on your site should enhance the message you’re trying to get across, not distract from it.

Invest in a photographer or find a volunteer that might be good with a camera to shoot some photos for your site. A few high-quality images can go a long way when it comes to conversions!

8. Long, detailed forms

We get it. Sometimes it’s necessary to have a relatively in-depth form. But for basic calls to action like signing up for your newsletter or donating, try to keep things as short and concise as possible. Only include information that you absolutely must. The shorter the form, the more likely a site visitor is to complete the action at hand.

Do you need the first and last names of everyone who signs up for your email list? Probably not. Especially when cutting those form fields could result in more subscribers.

9. Using generic button text

Remind your supporters about the results of their action. Don’t leave anything to question. Instead of using “Submit” for the button on your newsletter form, try something more direct, like “Sign up”. It tells them exactly what they can expect to happen when they click the button.

For a donate form, title your button “Complete Your Donation” or something similar so a user knows that they’ve reached the end of the process.

10. Writing content that’s hard to scan

People probably won’t read every word on each page of your website. This is especially true for calls to action hidden within intimidating walls of text. By using headings coupled with small, digestible paragraphs, users can quickly scan your text to zero in on the information they’re looking for.

Formatting text in this easy-to-read way also helps the accessibility of your website. (We use this term a lot because it’s important!) We can’t emphasize enough that working toward accessibility within your website content and design enables you to build a stronger community of supporters.

11. Not prioritizing your calls to action

As you’re writing content for your site, there are probably multiple goals you have in mind. You might want people to sign up to volunteer, enroll in programs and advocate for your cause. It’s not to say that you can’t ask users to do all of these things, but it’s important to prioritize which calls to action go on what pages. Focus on one main action for each page.

You might ask visitors to apply for programs throughout the program pages of your site while adding a donate call to action on pages about your organization’s impact. You’ll see your conversion rates rise when you strategically place calls to action in areas that make logical sense rather than overwhelming people with options.

Getting supporters to interact with your website is a huge goal of pretty much any organization’s web presence. By following our advice for common web design issues, you’ll hopefully notice that more website visitors are taking actions that drive your mission forward.

Have you overcome any of the web design issues listed here? Did you notice an uptick in website conversions after the fix? Let us know in the comments below.

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Want to step up your nonprofit’s marketing, but don’t quite have the budget for new tools and programs? Google for Nonprofits can help with that.

Through the Google program, your nonprofit can apply to use a variety of Google products and other Google tools for free, where payment would typically be required. When the program is used correctly, Google for Nonprofits is a great (and most importantly, free) way to get your communications organized and expand your reach.

In my personal opinion, it’s a super cool resource that Google has opened up to all sorts of nonprofits, both small and large. But we’d never recommend that you waste your time on applications if the program is not a good fit for your organization. So, let’s dive into the benefits and drawbacks, the tools it includes, and what an application will entail.

Benefits

As we see things, the benefits are fairly straightforward. Google for Nonprofits includes:

  • Wide range of eligibility for most registered US nonprofits (and some other countries)
  • Tools to expand your audience
  • Opportunities to streamline and connect your processes
  • No cost

That said, the main drawback is that all of these programs will take time to set up correctly, learn how to use and adequately maintain to get the most benefit.

Google for Nonprofits Programs

Once your application for Google for Nonprofits is accepted, you’ll need to apply separately for any included programs that you’d like to use. The following are all options.

G Suite for Nonprofits

The G Suite for Nonprofits program is essentially a free G-Suite Basic account, including Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Drive, and Hangouts Meet.

The Wired Impact crew is deep in all of these Google tools and loves them. G Suite will provide your team with the tools it needs to easily collaborate and streamline processes more effectively. Using Gmail, you’ll be able to set up professional-looking staff email through your domain name, for example, name@nonprofit.org. And Drive will save your internal documents and files online, in a central place that’s safe, easily accessible for your whole team and doesn’t hog your computer memory.

Without Google for Nonprofits, this service would be $6 per month for every user. While it’s not an outlandish price, setting up the free version could be worth it to your nonprofit long-term, especially if you’re planning to make use of other Google for Nonprofits programs down the road.

Google Ad Grants

An Ad Grant is a free Google Ads account with a $10,000 monthly budget. There are restrictions and policies surrounding the types of ads you can run through an Ad Grant account.

Google search ads, the types of ads that are included in the Ad Grant, are a great option for nonprofits hoping to dramatically expand their reach through search. The ads will appear above or below the search results for targeted keywords and phrases that you note in your account. It takes a lot of time to manage a standard Ad Grant account, but there is an Express Ad Grant that can be relatively hands-off once it’s set up.

YouTube Nonprofit Program

The YouTube Nonprofit Program gives your nonprofit access to YouTube Giving fundraising features, Creator Academy tutorials and YouTube global creator studios. You’ll also be able to link supporters to external URLs, like pages on your nonprofit’s website, from your channel page.

If your nonprofit uses videos to engage your audience (or would like to start), this program is a great opportunity to take advantage of free resources to level-up your YouTube page.

Google Earth and Maps

Organizations with Google for Nonprofits can apply for Google Maps Platform credits to use for things like data visualization or publishing maps on your website.

If your nonprofit has multiple locations, Google Maps could be a great option to show visitors where you’re located and supporters where your impact is. Nonprofits working in remote or international areas could also be a great fit for a virtual tour, using Google Street View.

Google One Today

Google One Today is a free app that features a different nonprofit every day and allows donations to participating nonprofits through the app.

Only organizations with Google for Nonprofits can apply to be listed in the app. While it could potentially bring in extra donations for your nonprofit, it will take a little time to manage and you will not be able to access the contact information of donors who use the app.

How to Apply

Think one or more of these programs could be a great addition to your nonprofit’s marketing strategy? The Google for Nonprofits application process is fairly straightforward.

  1. Check your eligibility. Government organizations, health care facilities, schools and nonprofits in certain countries aren’t eligible for the program.
  2. Track down your nonprofit’s EIN number, physical address and online contact info. You’ll need it for the application.
  3. Complete the short, online application.

Google may take up to two weeks to review your application before approving it, so be prepared for a little waiting.

Does your nonprofit have Google for Nonprofits? Which programs do you use? Would you recommend it to other organizations? I’d love to hear your thoughts and chat in the comments.

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When you need a creative spark, looking around for website design inspiration can jump-start your brainstorm and help you decide your likes and dislikes. But if you’re not careful, compiling a bunch of examples can get your website project off on the wrong foot.

Before you spend too much time searching for lists of award-winning websites or asking colleagues and friends for ideas, make sure you have a plan for what you want to accomplish. There are a number of ways you can be led astray, which only snowball as you move forward with putting together a budget, creating a request for proposal, and choosing the right web design company.

7 Ways You’re Getting Off Track

Managing your nonprofit’s website project is hard enough without getting derailed right at the start. Looking for inspiration and website examples is a good way to define your likes and dislikes, but it can distract you from the most important website considerations. Here are some of the common problems we’ve encountered working with all types of organizations.

You don’t prioritize your audience

Your nonprofit has a unique target audience full of specialized interests. Within that audience, you also have personas that are on different journeys with and through your organization. This uniqueness should be reflected in your website structure and page names, the voice and tone of your content, and calls to action on your site.

Even if you’re browsing a list of the best nonprofit websites out there, it’s extremely unlikely that another organization has created something that you can (or should) mimic exactly in order to serve your mission and constituents.

You overlook your nonprofit’s goals

Let’s say you find an example of a nonprofit website that looks really modern or has innovative features that you hadn’t even considered until now. Your website wish list starts to grow longer with interesting ideas. But what do you need your website to be able to do? The start of any website project should include a concrete list of goals that tie into where you want to go as an organization.

From there, start with a list of essential website features and start separating the must-have from nice-to-have items. You might decide to pass on a custom community forum and create a Facebook group. Or maybe that online store is a distraction from other revenue-generating activities. You’ll feel more comfortable making decisions like these if you prioritize your goals now.

You devalue your brand

Chances are that you’ll come across a few websites that have a great look and feel but don’t really match your organization’s aesthetic. Maybe you can picture using different colors and fonts with similar results. Or you start to think that now is the time to uplevel your marketing to fit this aspirational example.

Ideally, you’ll feel great about your nonprofit’s brand and style before heading into a website project. From this position, you’ll be better able to identify and communicate design preferences that align with your brand and overall tone. You’ll also want to consider your brand’s strengths and how that plays into website design. For example, avoid photo-heavy approaches if high-quality photography is a big challenge for your organization.

You forget about usability & maintenance

The excitement of looking around for website design inspiration can inadvertently shift your attention to what a site looks like more than how people will be able to use it. Nice first impressions don’t automatically mean impressive usability. A website should work for a wide range of abilities and tech know-how, especially if your nonprofit wants to (or must) meet accessibility standards.

Seeing web design from the front end also doesn’t tell you much about how the site actually works on the administrative side of things. For the website managers out there, that means you won’t have a good idea of how practical it is to maintain given your own skills and abilities.

You don’t factor in budget & time

One of the toughest questions web designers get is “how much would a website like ___ cost?” There’s so much that goes into making a website, from the platform itself, graphic elements, and content creation—not to mention custom features. And, of course, a lot of time.

At the start of your website project, you probably won’t know how much different components cost, the potential return on investment, or what you’ll pay to keep it updated. (Which is why we offer easy monthly pricing.) But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream big. Just keep in mind that going extra comes with the need for extra budget. A more complex site could also mean a longer timeline to build it.

You assume high performance

We’ve all been guilty of looking at a gorgeous nonprofit website and thinking “Geez, they must rake in the donations.” If an organization invests a big chunk of change into a new website, it’s easy to assume that it more than pays for itself. The same goes for lists of top nonprofit websites—but there’s a lot that goes into these curated selections of websites that don’t necessarily have anything to do with how well the sites perform.

Unless you know an insider who’s willing to share analytics, take flashy functionality and design with a grain of salt. You can’t know if a site is helping an organization meet its goals. While it might seem boring right now, having a practical site with some longevity and the potential to grow with you should still be a priority.

You overload yourself with ideas

If your Pinterest account, bulletin board or file folder is overflowing with website design inspiration, you’re not doing yourself any favors. When our team asks clients for some examples of sites that they like, we’re looking for a list of 3-5 max. Culling your list of ideas down to a smaller selection is a good sign that you’ve set clear goals and priorities.

As you look for examples, stay focused on what’s most important. Try to filter out inspiration that you personally like versus what fits your nonprofit’s reality. This can also help you avoid the sticky situation of giving your colleagues, boss or board the wrong expectations for what’s possible.

5 Questions to Ask Instead

As you look for inspiration, keep your website project on track by asking yourself the following questions when you find a site you love. Taking notes like these can also help you put together a great request for proposal later on in the process.

  1. What is it exactly that I like? Get specific and try to articulate things clearly for future reference as you sort through your ideas.
  2. What is it like to get around on the site? In addition to how easy it is for you to use, imagine how your audience might react to a design or feature.
  3. What does this site allow people to do? Identify functionality that is also important for your site to include, like email signups or online donations.
  4. What kind of platform is it built on? If you’re hoping to do updates in-house, you might prioritize a system you’re familiar with, like checking to see if it’s WordPress.
  5. How is it different from what we need? Even if you like a lot of the site, calling out what you don’t like or need helps narrow down what you’re looking for.
Where to look for website design inspiration

Now that you’re better prepared to scour the internet for inspiration and ideas, here are several sources we recommend.

  • Lists of great nonprofit websites that explain their rationale, such as those from npENGAGE, CauseVox and Double the Donation
  • Asking for ideas (or referrals) from colleagues at other organizations, even if they don’t work on causes like yours
  • Looking at the websites of organizations that your board members and top supporters or funders are also involved with
  • Considering websites from outside of the charity sector

The process of finding design inspiration should be as purposeful as it is fun and hopeful. Nowadays, the vast majority of nonprofits around the world have websites, giving you a seemingly endless pool of examples to swim in. Being strategic about where and how you look for ideas can keep your website project on track. Even better, clearly articulating your goals, must-have elements and style preferences will help you build a strong relationship with your website designer.

Where do you look for website design inspiration? What else do you think people should consider when searching for examples? See you in the comments!

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Online fundraising is always shifting and so should your nonprofit’s strategy. But that’s not the same as jumping on every shiny new trend. There are more foundational changes afoot that are important to consider as you work to create a plan and get meaningful results from web-based fundraising.

For every change, there are also best practices for fundraising that stay the same. Donors still care about their impact and your financial transparency. Strong calls to action and compelling storytelling still win hearts and minds. The basic recipe isn’t going through a complete overhaul, but there are some new ingredients that we’ll cover below.

The Future of Web-Based Fundraising

Nonprofit marketers and fundraisers are used to hearing “more, more, more.” While that’s certainly the case in many areas of web-based fundraising trends, we’ve also identified a few places where “less” is an equally important factor these days.

More options to choose from

Have you seen a typical “Ways to Give” page these days? It can be a wild jungle of online giving, corporate matches, monthly gifts, personal fundraisers, Amazon Smile, planned giving and more. And while it’s great to provide options, you want to be strategic so that you don’t overwhelm people.

In addition to being responsive to donor preferences, think about what success looks like for each option and if the effort from your team is worth it. Also consider what the giving experience is like on different platforms or services and if that experience aligns with your nonprofit.

Less control over campaigns

Sure, crowdfunding sounds great. Unless you like a lot of control. While many nonprofits have embraced supporter-run Facebook Fundraisers, others have had a hard time handing over the reigns for others to collect funds on their behalf. After all, it’s difficult to control the narrative, branding and follow up when someone else runs the show.

According to the 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report, 14% of donors have jumped at the chance to run their own peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. Should you decide that this is a direction that you’re going to invest in (see the previous section), be prepared to let your community run with things more than you’re probably used to.

More audience segments

If you’ve been thinking that web-based fundraising is the way to reach the young and offline tactics are for the old, it’s not that simple (and never has been). There are more generations than ever giving online, which means you need to carefully evaluate the channels you use as well as their overall usability for a wide range of abilities.

For example, the 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report shows that millennial donors, Gen X donors and baby boomer donors all prefer to give online in nearly the same amounts (54-55%). They are all inspired to give by email and social media, but email tends to be more motivating to the more senior crowd. Does knowing that change the way you’d like to build your email list? Have you considered family-friendly options that appeal to multiple generations?

Less interest in words alone

Using storytelling for fundraising isn’t new, but the digital environment is changing what’s possible for story delivery and how you communicate impact. Interactivity and gamification, like donor challenges, are also becoming desirable (and feasible) as people look for more than one-way or passive messages asking them to give.

That’s not to say that you have to learn a bunch of new tech or jump to invest in VR. Just remember that your donors are on a journey that’s not always as simple as heading straight for the donation form. They might spend extra time along the way getting to know your cause and the community in order to be sure that their needs align with what you offer.

More asks to make

Speaking about the supporter journey… Even if getting a donation is the end goal, it might not be the first ask in your marketing funnel, or even the last one. There are other calls-to-action that help build your relationship with an online supporter, from getting them on your mailing list to becoming a monthly donor.

Have you mapped out the different ways that you’ll engage your different target audience personas over time? Consider their needs and goals and try to align and time your asks accordingly.

Fewer dividing lines

Ever wondered where the line is between digital marketing and web-based fundraising? The answer is: it’s messy. Online channels are for outreach and to cultivate donors. The website isn’t just for communications staff. A database isn’t just for donors. The more that your nonprofit builds a culture of philanthropy, the less clarity there is on campaign ownership and responsibilities.

Even trickier, measuring success means that your data has to get out of the silos, too. According to one Salesforce study, 97% of fundraising teams could access their CRM system and data, while only 47% of marketing staff could use it for communications. Working with the fundraising team on shared goals will increasingly require shared tools.

More urgent opportunities

Do you dream of the good old days when all you had to worry about was an annual appeal and a handful of events? More and more campaigns are happening on short timelines with big ramp-ups, quick wrap ups and heading on to the next thing. There are 24-hour giving days, live video streams, disaster crowdfunding campaigns, and rage donations.

Donors are willing to respond quickly, but your internal systems might not be ready. Look for opportunities to streamline your process, integrate your technology (like your website and email marketing platform) and create standard templates that can be adjusted and implemented without starting from scratch. In addition to our nonprofit resources, find checklists from Bloomerang, Julia Campbell and Network for Good.

Get Ready for Change

Change is at the heart of web-based fundraising—its ever-evolving nature means our strategies must also transform over time. Of course, online fundraising also makes change possible, fueling your mission to make the world a better, healthier, safer, just and caring place.

Keeping a pulse on long term shifts can help you make small changes and choices that won’t feel out of touch with what your donors need and expect. Plan to evaluate your fundraising strategy at least once a year to make sure you’re that your nonprofit is heading in a forward direction.

What have you noticed about fundraising changes in the last few years or decades? Anything you’re hoping to see in the coming years? Let’s talk in the comments.

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Who here isn’t guilty of forgetting about social media? Scrolling through your feed, you realize with just a hint of shame that it’s been over a month since you posted anything on any of your channels. Nonprofit social media posts often slip through the cracks when things get busy, but it doesn’t need to be that way.

And, in case you’re thinking of using the “But we haven’t had anything to say” excuse for falling behind on posting, you should know that it is no longer valid. There are plenty of things to say to your supporters on social media, keeping your nonprofit relevant and top of mind, even when it feels like you have nothing to share. Aside from the fact that it’s expected in today’s connected world, staying active on social media has a ton of benefits for nonprofits. It’s not hard to do when you have a plan in place.

We say this a lot. But I’ll repeat it for all the new readers. When it comes to nonprofit marketing (social media included), strategy and organization are key to success. For nonprofit social media posts, having a few evergreen posts waiting in the wings of your editorial calendar can be a lifesaver during your busy season or when creativity and post inspiration feel far, far away.

Nonprofit Social Media Posts

Write up these nonprofit social media posts for your editorial calendar now and pull from them when you’re short on time or ideas. You can rotate through these post types as often as you like, peppering in more timely posts when you do have something to say.

Repurpose Impact Stats

Pull a few impact statistics from your annual report and post them sporadically throughout the year, perhaps along with a snazzy graphic created in Canva.

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services posts use a fun “Did You Know?” graphic template to post stats from their programs and annual report on Instagram.

Offer Bite-Size Stories

You probably have a few good stories from your supporters and those that you’ve helped in your back pocket. Condense them into bite-size pieces and link the posts to your blog or website for the full story. Try to include a photo of the storyteller along with the post if you can.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association shared snippets of stories from their supporters who have been affected by ALS throughout May, ALS Awareness Month.

In 2015, Karen Condron was awarded with the Wings Over Wall Street Spirit Award and last July she passed away after an…

Posted by Muscular Dystrophy Association on Friday, May 24, 2019
Share Testimonials

When someone says something nice about your nonprofit, post it on social and post it again after a few months. You could even tag the person within the quote if they’re comfortable with it. Social proof is a powerful thing.

Aging Ahead uses testimonials from current program participants to tout their senior exercise classes on Facebook.

See why Linda attends our House Springs exerstart class. "The class has made me stronger and more confident. The…

Posted by Aging Ahead on Thursday, May 16, 2019
Take a Hint From Popular Hashtags

No matter what day of the week it is, there’s a hashtag to use and relate back to your organization and work. Bonus points if you create your own weekly hashtag and stick with it.

  • Monday: #MotivationMonday, #ManCrushMonday, #MindfulMonday
  • Tuesday: #TransformationTuesday, #TravelTuesday
  • Wednesday: #WomanCrushWednesday, #WellnessWednesday, #WisdomWednesday
  • Thursday: #ThrowbackThursday, #ThursdayThoughts
  • Friday: #FlashBackFriday, #FreebieFriday, #FridayReads
  • Saturday: #SocialSaturday, #Caturday, #SaturdayStyle
  • Sunday: #SelfieSunday, #SundayFunday, #SpotlightSunday

Tree House Humane Society, a humane society with a focus on finding good homes for stray cats, created their own #ToesieTuesday to share photos of cute cat paws.

What comes after Monday? TOEsday! Show us your toes. #TreeHouseToes #ToesieTuesday pic.twitter.com/ZlnfJXjad2

— Tree House Cats (@TreeHouseCats) January 29, 2019
Fundraise

It’s okay to pepper in donation appeals as long as it’s not the only content you post. Do you provide assistance for supporter-run Facebook Fundraisers? Let your followers know that you make the process easy.

KIF1A.org uses powerful videos to raise money for their rare disease research initiatives on Facebook.

Every league of superheroes has an origin story. Here is ours. Meet Susannah. She is as resilient as she is kind. Every day she is fighting to build and hold onto skills and abilities that so many of us take for granted. For Sus and our league of superheroes, KIF1A Associated Neurological Disorder robs their ability to walk, talk and see. KAND is degenerative and left to its own devices, it can threaten the lives of our superheroes.That’s why KIF1A families and researchers have banded together to find treatment now. We are powering rapid progress toward our mission but we can’t do it alone. Join us.

Posted by KIF1A.org on Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Post Inspirational Quotes

Whether you go with Helen Keller, Steve Jobs, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr. or Henry David Thoreau, there are some pretty great inspirational quotes out there that can easily relate back to your mission. Have a few good ones ready and waiting for your social crowd.

Girl Scouts of the USA get a lot of love when they post inspirational quotes from strong women on their Instagram account.

View this post on Instagram

Shine on. #MondayMotivation

A post shared by Girl Scouts (@girlscouts) on May 20, 2019 at 8:28am PDT

Celebrate Your Staff

Highlight a staff member on a special work anniversary or someone that’s killing it at your organization on the daily. Or maybe there’s a new member of your team to introduce to your audience on social media or a great quote from your executive director or board chair. Let people know what they do and how it impacts your mission.

The National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias celebrates staff milestones with their social media audience.

25 years…Can it be true??? Jodi Edgar Reinhardt has been with the NFED for 25 years…We are celebrating her this…

Posted by National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias on Thursday, May 23, 2019
Put a Volunteer in the Spotlight

We all love volunteers. And every good volunteer engagement strategy includes showing appreciation for your volunteers. Why not do it on social media, where your audience and all of their friends can see?

After a mission trip, AMOS Health and Hope creates a Facebook album with photos from the trip to thank the volunteers who attended.

Remind Followers About Ongoing Programs

Time to plug your ongoing programs, from volunteer programs to direct services to corporate giving to social media ambassadors. A gentle reminder through social media never hurts program participation and engagement.

Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley uses Twitter to encourage followers to participate in their volunteer programs.

Looking for some weekend plans? Volunteer with our Playhouse Program and help build a space for a child to explore their imagination!

Learn how you can get involved: https://t.co/Nc9JlyW1rl pic.twitter.com/MUphhBDZMh

— Habitat for Humanity (@HabitatEBSV) May 30, 2019
Share Old Blog Content

You can post your blog content on social media more than once, especially if it’s hyper-relevant to your audience on social media. And there’s a good chance a good percentage of your followers didn’t even see it the first time. Get tips on sharing your reusable content.

Hopefully, these content ideas help build out your nonprofit’s editorial calendar for the next few months. (And encourage you to start an editorial calendar if you don’t already have one built out!) Staying active on social media gives your supporters a place to engage with your organization in meaningful and ongoing ways. You’ll be top of mind when they think of causes to give to, places to volunteer, services to take advantage of and fundraisers to attend.

Which nonprofit social media posts do you lean on when your editorial calendar gets short? Are there types of posts that are particularly popular with your audience? Let us know in the comments below.

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Making great web content for your nonprofit doesn’t mean putting together fancy graphics and clever copy. In reality, one of the most common website mistakes we encounter is a seemingly small detail: forgetting about links. If you haven’t been sprinkling in helpful website links that guide visitors (and search engines) through your content, it’s time to make some changes.

But Seriously… You Should Care

I know that talking about links doesn’t seem really exciting at first—and this is coming from the person who wrote all about meta descriptions. Let me explain.

Oftentimes when marketers talk about website links, we’re focused on inbound links. Also called backlinks, these are the links that come to your website from other places online.

Building links to your website is an important part of marketing strategies. The amount of quality links to a particular page and domain is one of many signals that search engines use to determine what shows up (and where) in search results. Links to your content from other sites indicate that the content is good quality and worth listing.

Put all of that aside for now. For this post we’re focusing on internal website links, which are the links you create within your own website content. Internal linking on your website can be just as crucial as inbound links.

Search Engine Implications

Internal website links play a significant role in search engine optimization (SEO) but for different reasons than inbound links. When you add an internal link, you offer a pathway to related pages or blog posts on your website. And the more that you do that, the better connected your site is overall. When a search engine comes along to crawl and index your site, all of those connections help it find your content and quickly.

Impact on User Experience

Don’t really care about search traffic? I’m not sure we can be friends, but I understand you’ve got priorities. The other main reason to care about internal website links is to give your visitors a great experience.

Offering links to helpful resources, related programs or calls-to-action is a way to keep people moving through your website without them needing to search around. Use links to keep them on a journey and offer a cohesive and user-friendly website. (And lower your bounce rate!)

Even if you’re not convinced that this is exciting stuff, just remember that creating internal links is a factor in your website’s success when it comes to search traffic and making visitors happy. I’d say those are two good reasons to keep reading and see if you have any room for improvement.

Bonus photo of a cute dog for making it this far 5 Rules for Website Links

As you pay more attention to the links on your nonprofit’s website, there are a handful of best practices to keep in mind. Here are our rules for effective links.

#1 Add Links To Related Pages

This seems like an obvious rule, but it’s a great place to start no matter where you are in building or maintaining a website. It should be a rare occurrence that a page on your site doesn’t have an opportunity to link to related information. When you mention a program or resource, why not add a link right there in the sentence? These types of links are called contextual links and will come naturally if you’ve invested energy into creating thorough content.

Most importantly, never stop doing this. As you add new pages or blog posts to your website, there are new opportunities to create links. In addition to helping visitors easily find the information, your new content could get an added boost in search results if you link to it from a more established page on your site.

#2 Describe Where/What You’re Linking To

Have you ever come across a “Click Here” link and thought twice about actually clicking? Vague wording in your links is pretty much the same as a click-baity headline. Folks might be interested, but they’re also wary of ending up somewhere weird. The same goes for links that are calls-to-action. Don’t surprise someone by using a non-descript link that tricks them into landing on your Donate page.

The wording of your links (which is called anchor text) should give visitors a clear idea of what to expect when they click. For example, instead of a link that says “Learn More” you could give a better hint at what comes next with “Explore Resources About (Specific Topic)”.

#3 Make Your Links Easy To Find

There’s a lot of great research on the best ways for links to appear within page content so that they are accessible to your website visitors. Ideally, they’ll be shown in a color that’s different from your normal text and underlined, if possible. (This is also why you should avoid underlining other text on your site, which can cause confusion.)

You can also format links as buttons to help them visually stand out on a page, like when you’re offering a document or report for download. Stay true to Rule #2 and make your button text descriptive like you would for a normal link. Even “Download the Report” is better than “Click Here.”

#4 Open Outbound Links in a New Tab

The general rule of thumb (and expectation for most website users) is that clicking a link to another page on your website will mean that the new page opens in the same window. For outbound links, where you link to a page that’s not on your website, you’ll want to format your link differently. In most cases, links that send people away from your website should open in a new window or tab.

This allows visitors to stay on your website while giving them the chance to check out the additional information you’ve recommended or referenced. Be sure to follow Rule #2 and let visitors know, either in the anchor text or surrounding content, where they are headed with outbound links.

#5 Regularly Check & Fix Broken Links

Links break for lots of reasons, like when you change the location and URL of a page without a redirect or update the version of a downloadable document. The same goes for other websites you link to from your site. As part of website maintenance best practices, we suggest checking for broken links once a month.

It only takes a few minutes to run a check using a free tool like Dr. Link Check, shown below, which will review up to 1,500 links across your site. A service like this not only helps you know if there’s a problem but tells you exactly where to look to fix it.

Auditing Your Website Content

Feeling motivated to work on your internal links? If you’re building a new website, now’s the perfect time to plan your content and identify pages that should be connected for your visitors using links. For an existing website, start with a review of your website structure to get a feel for all the pages you have to work with. In both cases, examine your content with these questions in mind:

  1. What background information might be helpful at this point?
  2. Are there other pages that someone reading this content should know about?
  3. Is there a next step or action that a visitor to this page should take?

It’s never too late to care about website links. The benefits outweigh the cost of making improvements (it’s free!), and working on links can happen at your own pace as time allows. Go ahead and take a look to see if your nonprofit’s site is using links effectively.

Are there any rules for website links that you’d add to the list? How do you stay on top of internal linking on your nonprofit’s website? Let’s share ideas (and your newfound love of links) in the comments.

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Whether you’re promoting a big milestone at your nonprofit, looking to fund a specific need, or hoping to switch up your year-end fundraising this year, nonprofit marketing campaigns are your best friends.

A part of your organization’s annual marketing plan, these puzzle pieces work toward one specific goal that moves your mission forward. Anniversaries, capital campaigns, awareness building and advocacy initiatives — all nonprofit marketing campaigns could do with a little strategy to organize and promote your efforts.

To make sure your campaign is cohesive with the rest of your marketing and communications efforts, include your plans for upcoming campaigns, like for an annual appeal, in your nonprofit’s overall marketing strategy. And, if you’re building your nonprofit’s marketing strategy from the ground up, be sure to get tips on the process and download our nonprofit marketing strategy template.

Nonprofit Marketing Campaigns

Sometimes, all you need is a little inspiration to pull together the perfect nonprofit marketing campaign. Whether you’re looking for ideas and examples to shake up your next campaign or just hoping for a few warm fuzzies from great causes, we loved following these eight nonprofit marketing campaigns.

Video Campaign

KIF1A.ORG needed funds to purchase a mouse for a research project aimed at finding a treatment for the rare disease that the organization focuses on. So, they ramped up a video campaign to make it happen. Supporters and kids participated in their #WeNeedaMouse video campaign to let their community know why they needed a mouse and raise the funds to purchase one. The campaign (which was a huge success!) used YouTube, but also incorporated Facebook, Twitter, email, their blog and website to get the word out.

Video campaigns can be intimidating, but we’ve seen it include some of the most engaging content within organizations. Get tips on developing a video marketing strategy for your nonprofit.

#WeNeedAMouse DAY 1 - YouTube
Advocacy Campaign

Defenders of Wildlife works to empower ordinary citizens to advocate for the environment through their advocacy campaigns. For their Endangered Species Day campaign, they used a landing page and leaned on other helpful, beginner-level guides and resources on their website. They also placed a heavy focus on social media, especially Twitter, to get their message out about strengthening the Endangered Species Act and develop actionable relationships with advocates and lawmakers. The downloadable Facebook cover photos and Twitter banners were a nice touch!

Get tips on creating your own Twitter strategy to move advocacy efforts forward.

It's not too late to join the movement & take a stand to defend #endangered & threatened wildlife today! Stand with us & 1.8 million members & supporters to protect the future of #endangeredspecies! https://t.co/4PlTcg2kpM #StopExtinction #EndangeredSpeciesDay

— Defenders of Wildlife (@Defenders) May 18, 2019
Awareness Campaign

May is Myositis Awareness Month, and The Myositis Association celebrated with an awareness campaign that included events, emails, Facebook components and a page on their website with a downloadable awareness guide. They used the webpage as a hub for all of the other pieces, tying them all to one place for supporters and ambassadors.

When it’s possible and makes sense for your campaign, like for big campaigns that your organization runs every year, a landing page on your website is a great central place to send visitors through the other pieces and channels that make up your strategy. And, if they’re interested, visitors are then in the perfect position to learn more about your organization and get involved in other things you have going on.

Anniversary Appeal

For the Oblates of the Virgin Mary’s 200th anniversary, they wanted to make a splash worthy of their organization’s rich history. They ramped up a fundraising campaign centered around a gala, email campaign and new pages on their site to celebrate their history, gather gala registrations and collect donations.

Need ideas for an upcoming anniversary? Peruse a few other ideas and examples of organizations celebrating their anniversary digitally.

Year-End Fundraising

With the cold weather and low adoption rates, December is a tough month for pet shelters. For their year-end fundraising campaign, Stray Rescue of St. Louis focused on all of the ways their supporters can show their love to homeless pets over the holiday season. The campaign was Instagram heavy, but also included emails and blog posts, all with a special push to donate before the end of the year.

Why not try something new this year? Would a focus on Instagram make sense for your audience? It’s never too early to start planning your year-end fundraising campaign.

View this post on Instagram

You helped us save all these lives this year! And so many more… As “The Year of the Dog” draws to a close, we #reflect on an incredible year. We are so honored to have each one of you to #support our ongoing #lifesaving efforts. This has been an amazing year with so many lives saved and miraculous recoveries. But, one thing I have learned this year is that our #hearts are bigger than our budget. Everyday we perform #medical procedures that other shelters wouldn’t even attempt. We put all of our hearts and resources into saving the lives of the #unwanted, forgotten and abused. We do it because we’re steadfast in our guiding principle that these special #animals don’t deserve to die without knowing love, a home, family and #respect. So we do everything necessary to give them that because they deserve our every effort. 2019 will bring thousands more #dogs and #cats to our doorstep, needing medical care, nourishment, and shelter. We ask that you help to ensure we have the medical funding necessary to continue doing what we do best. We are excited to announce that every cent raised from now until midnight on New Year’s Eve will be MATCHED, and will go to the Stracks Fund to cover the much needed medical care that is the foundation for every animal at Stray Rescue. The Stracks Fund allows us to fulfill our #mission and our promise to the victimized animals of our city. Thank you for sticking by our side through 2018 as we celebrated the wins together and honored the losses. Not only is this the Year of the Dog, it’s the year of #YOU. We couldn’t do what we do without you fighting alongside us – our compassionate Army of Animal #Warriors. For the next few days, we’ll share some of the most memorable stories from 2018, and ask that you please give so we can help more in 2019. Let’s give hope to those still out there who need us. Together we can create more #miracles and save more #lives of these precious animals we all love so much. Every dollar is matched, so please share our message and make those year-end tax-deductible gifts. Thank you and God Bless you! With Love & Gratitude, Cassady Caldwell, Executive Director www.strayrescue.org/livessaved

A post shared by Stray Rescue of St. Louis (@strayrescuestl) on Dec 30, 2018 at 7:22pm PST

Matching Gift Campaign

The Teton County Search and Rescue had a sponsor willing to match up to $30,000 to fund a helicopter and trained team. Their campaign, owning the “Heli-Yes” slogan, used press releases, social media, a page on their website and powerful stories of lives saved by helicopter rescues to anchor the campaign and reach their goal.

Is the pressure on to pull off a successful matching gift campaign? Get strategic with your marketing to build a campaign that keeps the message top of mind for your supporters.

Giving Day Campaign

Sherwood Forest participated in Give StL Day, the local giving day in St. Louis, Missouri. They did an awesome job using their blog and social media accounts to spread the word to their supporters and encourage them to participate in the giving day. A blog post on their website served as the anchor of the campaign, supported by emails and social media posts.

For larger campaigns that your nonprofit may participate in, like city or state giving days, your blog is an awesome way to get the word out without dedicating a more prominent and permanent page on your website.

Story Gathering

Rise Together is a nonprofit that encourages youth to raise their voices and advocate to improve key issues affecting them, such as suicide, bullying and drugs. Through their #TheFutureIsYouth campaign, the organization used social media, a Share Your Story page on their website (including creative options like music or poetry) and in-person presentations to gather stories from their audience, as well as spread awareness of key issues.

With the goal of gathering stories and content from your audience, a user-generated content plan is key.

Your nonprofit marketing campaign can use a variety of pieces and channels to accomplish your goal. A well-planned and thought-out campaign can do wonders. Use the examples in this post to craft a plan that makes sense for your organization and audience, likely taking bits and pieces from each to give the campaign your own original flair.

Do you have any nonprofit marketing campaigns that you’re particularly proud of? Working out the kinks in an upcoming campaign? Let’s talk in the comments.

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We know we’re nerds, but we think it’s super cool that you can use free tools like Google Analytics to measure marketing results and learn about the people who visit your website. Data can be overwhelming. It can be frustrating to figure out, a pain to compile, and easily pushed aside when time-sensitive tasks arrive on the scene. BUT, reviewing and making strategy adjustments based on data is critical to the effectiveness of your digital marketing.

What are your nonprofit’s goals? How is your marketing working to accomplish those goals? Is your plan driving results?

Let’s breakdown three common nonprofit goals from our marketing strategy template—increasing awareness, donations and volunteers. With those end goals in mind, we’ll take a look at where to start with Google Analytics, what metrics to look at, and how to think about analyzing data to determine the results of your marketing campaigns.

Before You Begin

Through this post, I’m using Google Analytics to demonstrate how to look at each metric. It’s a free tool offered through Google that we include for every nonprofit website that we launch on our website platform. The only caveat: if your account was not set up by a professional who knows what they’re doing, it can be a little tricky to make sure that your organization’s most important goals on your website are set up and tracking correctly within your Google Analytics account.

Once you’re tracking the key actions that you’d like visitors to take on your site, like email signups, donations and volunteer form submissions, you’re all set to review and use that data to influence your marketing strategy.

Measure Marketing Results

You want to look at the data that moves your goals forward or holds them up. Below, we’ve taken each goal and broken it down to the most important metric to determine its success, as well as all those supporting metrics that may contribute to that goal’s success.

Increase Awareness

When you’ve reached this goal for your organization, you’ll see more new users on your website. This means that more people are visiting your site that had not previously visited, and your awareness-building efforts are working. Find this information by going to “Overview” within the “Audience” section of your Google Analytics account.

Supporting Metrics

While seeing an uptick in new visitors is nice, there are a variety of other data points that contribute to that end result. By digging deeper into where traffic comes from and which of your pages are popular, you can draw conclusions about your audience and areas you might focus on to broaden the reach of your awareness efforts.

For example, by looking into organic search traffic, you may see that the number of visitors arriving from search engines has fallen drastically. Since search has worked for you in the past, you might decide to focus more energy and funds on search engine optimization (SEO) research with the goal of pushing key awareness pages back up into the top search results.

On the flip side, you may see that your organic search traffic has increased. By digging into the top landing pages, you see that the source for many of these pages is Google. You might then decide to revisit the page content for these pages to encourage an action that helps your organization open a line of communication with these visitors, such as signing up for your newsletter.

Increase Donations

For this goal to be a success, you’ll want to see the number of online donations grow. If the submission of your donate form is set up as a goal within your Google Analytics, you’ll look at goal completions for that goal to get your data. Dig into “Overview” within the “Goals” section of “Conversions” and select the donation goal from the “Goal Option” dropdown to find your number.

Supporting Metrics

Beyond the number of donate form submissions, look at data that tells you more about what visitors do before they submit the form, as well as where people jump ship in your online donation process.

Looking at your goal conversion rate, you might see that it’s a strong 25%, but the overall number of form submissions is nothing to write home about. To increase the number of submissions, you might focus on driving more people to that page from other popular pages on your site, like your homepage or About page.

On the other hand, if your conversion rate is weak, you might instead focus on streamlining your donation process. Is your abandonment rate high? Could it be because you have too many required fields or don’t follow global giving standards? Focus on making your donation process as easy as possible to encourage more donations.

Increase Volunteers

For this goal, you’ll want to see more visitors submit your interest form for new volunteers. As with donations, look at the goal completions for this form submission to find your number. Go to “Overview” within the “Goals” section of “Conversions” and select the volunteer sign up goal from the “Goal Option” dropdown to find your number.

Supporting Metrics

Similarly to donor data, dig into the supporting metrics surrounding potential volunteers that do or do not submit your volunteer interest form.

For example, you might notice that social media is a popular source for volunteer signups. Recently you started posting about volunteer opportunities, along with sharing stories and testimonials from volunteers. So this new data is great to see! You can take encouragement and continue focusing on social media to attract new volunteers.

However, if you notice that a specific source, like email traffic, has dropped in volunteer conversions, you may look into why that is. If you’ve let your emails to encourage volunteering fall to the wayside during your busy season, you may want to pick that up again.

Thinking About Data

Learning to measure marketing results is a mindset that you’ll develop over time. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. Look at the data and ask “why is this the case?” and “what might I do to improve that number”. Will it involve jumping down an absurd amount of deceptively deep puddles in search of all of the “but why” questions? Almost definitely, yes.

Questions to Ask

As you measure marketing results through an analytics review, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be pages and pages of charts and numbers. I find it easiest to start with a question and then go about finding the key metrics that can answer that question. As you’re getting started in the big, wide world of analytics, I pulled together a few questions to start looking for answers in the data that can move your marketing needle.

  • Did we accomplish our goal?
  • Which strategies focused on that goal were most successful?
  • How has this metric changed over time?
  • Which strategies were the least successful?
  • Is there an opportunity to increase success? Or should we focus efforts elsewhere?

Use the supporting metrics to dig into the whys behind your main goals and strategize a plan that improves numbers all around. To learn more about creating a strategy around your data and goals, check out our marketing strategy tips and template for nonprofits. A good nonprofit marketing strategy looks at the end goal and considers the best method of reaching that goal given all of the contributing factors (often in the form of data!) for your specific nonprofit.

Does your nonprofit use Google Analytics? Are you taking the time to measure marketing results? Do you use the data to adjust your marketing plan on a regular basis? Calling all fellow data nerds to please circle up in the comments below.

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Perhaps you’ve heard the news. In December, WordPress launched their 5.0 version, and it includes a pretty big change. *Hint* you’re going to have to learn a new way to format your content. But hopefully, you’ll find the process much more intuitive after the WordPress 5.0 update.

If you’re on the fence, you’ll need to update your website eventually. Holding out may prevent you from having to take the time to learn something new, but it will also prevent your website from issues with security breaches, bugs, slow load speeds and a variety of other issues that compound over time.

WordPress 5.0 Update

The recent update to WordPress creates a new default content editor called Gutenberg, which uses “blocks” to organize and format content on a page. This means that the way that you have been adding content to your WordPress site is going to change once you update to 5.0.

Take a look at the content editors side by side to see the difference.

Rather than using one field to create and format content, you’ll now create a new “block” for each new type of content. This includes paragraphs, headings, images, videos, quotes, etc. They will all need to be separate blocks.

WordPress 5.0 Perks

The Gutenberg block editor makes it a lot easier to create more complicated layouts and use more interesting content types. Plus, it’s more visual because you can see exactly how each block will look without having to preview the page.

Let’s look at adding a button to a page on your site. With the old content editor, you’d need to remember a shortcode (something like Add Linked Text ) or use the Text tab to add an HTML class to the page. You’d need to then preview the page to see what it would look like to visitors on your website. However, with Gutenberg, you just add the Button block and you can see the button right there in the editor.

Shortcodes are not a very intuitive or visual way to add content. You need to remember the exact text to include to get them to work correctly, and it’s difficult to visualize the layout that they’ll create without going back and forth between the preview and the content editor. With Gutenberg, developers can create blocks rather than relying on shortcodes for formatting content.

Challenges

There are going to be bugs for a while. Old content will automatically move into Classic Editor blocks (more on that below), and some things might break. We’ve seen this happen most often with styling. For example, the default button block might work in the new editor, but on the frontend it will look pretty bad without custom CSS styling.

If you hate the new block editor, you still have the option of switching to the classic editor within posts and pages. To do this, you’ll need to add the Classic Editor plugin and update your settings. But we’d recommend trying out the Gutenberg editor before you do this. You might find yourself surprised by how easy it is to use!

Using the New Gutenberg Block Editor

Let’s walk through the basics for using the new Gutenberg Block Editor. Each “block” that you add to your page or post can use a different content layout. For example, you can have an image block, a heading block, a paragraph block and a list block—all on the same page and used in as many places as you like. Each time you need to use a different content layout, you’ll add a new block.

The first block on your page or post is the page title. Any blocks that appear after that will appear in the body of the page or post.

Types of Blocks

As we mentioned above, each new piece of content layout will need to use a new block. This includes things like bulleted lists, buttons and content formatted into columns. You might find the following types of blocks especially handy as you format your nonprofit’s website content.

  • Paragraph – This will be your most-used block for standard paragraphs of text
  • Heading – Find six levels of headings, from the largest H1 to the smallest H6
  • List – Choose between a bulleted or numbered list
  • Quote – Call attention to quotes or statistics with special quote styling
  • Image – Add a full-width image to the page, breaking up the content
  • Video – Add a full-width video to the page
  • Media & Text – Add a media file to appear on half of the page, with a paragraph of text appearing on either side of the page
  • Table – Create a table to showcase data
  • Button – Create a button with customizable text and a link
  • Columns – Format content into two or more columns with this block
  • Separator – Add a horizontal line across the page to separate content
Options Within Blocks

Many blocks offer a variety of options based on your preferences. For example, within the Heading block, you can select different heading levels like H2 or H3, as well as adjust the alignment. When a block has settings options, they will appear in a settings menu on the right-hand side of your screen when the block in question is selected.

Classic Block

To format text on a page or post using the classic editor that was widely used before the update, select the “Classic” block. From there, you should have all of the same options and methods of formatting content that were previously available within that editor.

Any content currently on your website will automatically be placed in the Classic block when you upgrade to WordPress 5.0. However, within the Classic block, there is an option to “Convert to Blocks” to shift that content out of the Classic block and into the variety of different formatting blocks that the content requires. This way, you won’t have to go through the process of rebuilding an entire page from scratch if you’d prefer to use blocks on that page.

The WordPress 5.0 update gives you one more new thing to learn, and that can be frustrating when you need to get something up on your site quickly. But there’s a lot to be excited about with the WordPress 5.0 update, as creating engaging and dynamically formatted content becomes easier and more accessible.

Has your nonprofit’s site transitioned to WordPress 5.0? What do you think of the new content editor? Let’s chat Gutenberg vs. classic in the comments below.

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Nonprofits turn to awareness campaigns to increase their visibility and ride the wave of relevancy, often as part of designated awareness weeks and months. While there’s some good advice out there for putting together a campaign that drives people to act, the traditional marketing funnel is failing us when it comes to building relationships that lead to more supporters in the long run.

The Traditional Campaign Funnel

Whether you’re asking someone to sign up for emails or make a donation, a standard way of structuring a campaign is to think about how you’ll move someone through a funnel to the desired action.

For example, an awareness campaign related to public health might ask people to take a pledge promising that they’ll get a medical screening. Many folks won’t get much further than the initial stage, while others will consider the information and determine that it’s right for them.

From start to finish, an effective awareness campaign taking this approach would have some key ingredients:

  1. A specific target audience that’s a good fit for the ask
  2. Well-defined goals that help you define what success looks like
  3. Using multiple channels and types of information to reach your audience
  4. A strong call to action followed by a quick and thoughtful “thank you”
  5. Data-driven analysis of your results

But what happens to people at the end of the funnel?

Maybe you attracted a following of social media slacktivists or raised money from first-time donors. Now, you have a new type of audience on your hands that’s just starting a relationship with your organization.

Rather than say “see you later!” and trying to reach a whole new cohort of supporters the next time an awareness campaign comes around, the better return on investment is to continue their journey. The funnel isn’t nearly long enough to turn aware supporters into active champions.

A Double Funnel Strategy

Fundraisers these days are no strangers to the need for donor retention. Nonprofit marketers have a similar challenge attracting and keeping attention in the long-term—which keeps people warmed up for the next appeal or ask.

Taking a double funnel approach to awareness campaigns means planning ahead and making sure you have the processes in place to move people through a much longer journey. And instead of focusing purely on retention, the overall goal is to cultivate people into becoming advocates who can spread the word to people and places that you couldn’t easily reach before.

Let’s dive into the stages of the two funnels. For each one, consider the goals of your audience and your nonprofit. Think about the types of tools, activities and information you could use to move people to the next phase.

Awareness

During the Awareness stage, the primary focus is pushing content into the world to attract the attention and interest of your target audience. Here’s where you’ll start generating traffic from your communication channels like social media or media coverage.

Consideration

What makes your organization stand apart from the rest? The Consideration stage is where newly aware people will dig deeper into what your nonprofit offers (and what you’re asking them to do) in comparison to other options. They might look at your partners, reviews and impact information.

Action

You now have the attention of a smaller, but more invested audience. In the Action stage, success is defined by getting people to convert, such as subscribing to action alerts, making a pledge or joining a monthly giving program. Whatever the call to action, you need the ability to track and follow up with these supporters, like collecting contact information and making sure you add them to your donor management software.

Retention

New supporters need to stick around in order to turn them into champions. For the Retention stage, marketers and fundraisers work together to stay in touch with this unique segment of your audience. Follow-up communications like newsletters, surveys and direct mail are common.

Engagement

The Engagement stage is the start of your “upsell” that gets people talking about your organization to friends and family. Thinking about your favorite brands or stores, what would a loyalty program look like at your nonprofit? Your messages should be highly segmented, and you’ll look for online and offline opportunities (like Facebook Groups or in-person events) to connect based on their interests.

Champion

When a supporter reaches the Champion stage, they are prepared and willing to spread the word about your mission and programs in order to recruit people using their networks. Maybe you’ve invited them to a social media ambassador program. When your next awareness campaign comes around, these supporters can amplify your voice and add new people to the start of the funnel.

So what’s next? It would be much too difficult and time-consuming to keep people in the Champion stage forever. From here on out, aim to have supporters cycle through Retention and Engagement stages as you identify new areas for them to be champions for the cause.

Ready for Awareness Campaigns 2.0?

If your team already prioritizes thoughtful campaign follow-up, you’re well on your way to a double funnel strategy. For others who are just getting started, or about to launch your first awareness campaign, the amount of planning can seem overwhelming. Not only does this approach change your tactics and timeline, it also adjusts your measures of success.

Look for places where marketing automation can play a role and lighten your load, especially in the early stages. And don’t forget about the power of a website with great content. After all, you don’t need to develop relationships like you would with a major donor—the double funnel strategy is more about sustaining interest and interaction than one-on-one cultivation.

The task of “raising awareness” is vague at best, making it easy for even well-planned awareness campaigns to miss out on long-term value. Consider the double funnel for your next campaign and start harnessing the energy of loyal supporters.

This post originally appeared on the Bloomerang blog.

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